tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC January 25, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
let's end the tragedy of not being able to come together for other things that are also important. let's remember what we did today for congresswoman giffords. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. storming the bastille. let's play "hardball"! good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight -- keep your enemy close. president obama's state of the union address was first and foremost a campaign speech. a campaign against one man -- mitt romney. the president's assault on economic unfairness was the storming of the bastille against the special tax breaks of the guy who makes more in one day
than most people make all year and still wants more tax breaks for people like him. the message is stark and the campaign is on. get romney. it's where we start tonight. our few nbc news/"wall street journal" poll shows americans are feeling better about the new right now and consequently about president obama. 45% approve of the job he's doing on the economy. 50% disapprove. but that's an improvement over the december numbers. he's now plus two, 48 up, 46 down and exact reversal from last month. back to the speech. even though it sound like a point by point attack on mitt romney, it's newt gingrich who served since last week. new poll numbers show a dandy republican race full of fun like newt gingrich spinning his trist with calista as an event that makes him more normal than somebody who wanders around seeming perfect. also if you watched closely last
night you might have heard president obama say this to defense secretary leon panetta. >> good job tonight. good job tonight. >> it turns out. the president was talking about the daring rescue mission by navy s.e.a.l.s to free an american woman kidnapped by somali criminals. tonight jessica buchanan is safe and sound and we have the incredible story of her rescue. and let me finish tonight with the tapes from jack kennedy which show his conflict over vietnam right to the end. we begin with the president's popular speech last night targeted sharply at mitt romney. chuck todd is nbc's white house correspondent and chris cillizza is from postpolitics.com and an msnbc political analyst. mitt romney might have been sitting in the house like they always put those people up there for the president watching the address because his message, the president's, was a clear signal of what the obama campaign's attack will be on the former
governor if he's the nominee. it was something he repeated again today. let's listen. >> we need to change our tax code so that people like me and an awful lot of members of congress pay our fair share of taxes. tax reform should follow the buffet rule. if you make more than a million dollars a year, you should not pay less than 30% in taxes. now you can call this class warfare all you want. but asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as a secretary in taxes? most americans would call that common sense. >> you know, i've said before it sounds like one of our ads here with leaning forward. it does sound like common sense. how does the other side defend against a direct shot against a guy paying 15% or less in taxes and is campaigning to pay less? >> i think that is the fundamental problem romney has. he needs a bigger idea. he needs a bigger idea that the middle class can wrap their heads around about why he is going to fix this economy.
>> but why does he need a tax break? how does he make the case that he needs a tax break? >> he did a tax plan. he didn't do an economic plan when he did this thing. i think that basically what team obama did, the white house, the campaign, however we want to call this, but what team obama did was sort of expose that. he's messing around with numbers. he's messing around with his tax form. he is messing around and saying, let's hope, if i cut these taxes they'll create jobs. and i think this is -- this is now obama exposed this and frankly so has gingrich a little bit. romney needs to figure this out. he's got to come up with something bigger. >> chris cillizza, i don't know if you believe in luck. i do. i look at a guy that ran against alan keyes because the other guys that were going to run against him had marital problems right before the election. now he is running against, well newt gingrich is in there doing the blocking for him attacking the probable, i can still say,
nominee. romney destroying him for basically being the very thing obama says he is, an aloof, elitist bad guy. and then he is having to do the dirty work for him and then the guy has to put his tax returns out the very day of the state of the union. >> it's better to be lucky than good, chris. that is triply true in politics. go back even further with barack obama. his first race for state senate he got in because the woman he was replacing a woman who got disqualified from the ballot. yes this is someone who he is quite skilled, also pretty lucky in the right place at the right time. to chuck's point i think we've long thought, well romney's probably the best nominee republicans can put forward. he has the organization, can raise the money and make the economic argument. but there is an achilles heel that exists, at least today if romney is the nominee and that is this is a person who makes vastly more than the average person and it's not even in wages. that's the thing. i wrote about this a couple days ago. mitt romney's problem is his
tax, his financial life is exotic, swiss bank account, an account in grand cayman. he made $21 million without making any wages in 2011. all of those things, all of those things are not things that the average person sitting at home filling out their tax forms has any familiarity with and it makes mitt romney feel other, it makes him look out of touch, elitist. all of those things are bad in a presidential campaign, particularly one in an uncertain economic time. >> well, here he is. actually making the case you just made. an interview with cnbc's larry kudlow, romney decried the 99% versus the 1% criticism. he being high up in the 1%. in fact he is 1% of 1% of 1%. let's watch. >> the question is whether you're going to say we'll eliminate the capital gains tax break. so if you're going to say we're going to raise that dramatically, you'll choke off a lot of the capital that goes into creating new enterprises and creating jobs. it is the wrong way to go. this is designed to commit me if i'm the nominee.
if i happen not to be the nominee, he'll still take the 99 versus one attack. he is trying to divide america and to try and say that republicans are all about the rich people. i am fighting to help middle class americans get better jobs and better incomes, and people who have been successful understand the path to success. we want everyone to enjoy success in america. >> you know, these words he uses, people have been successful. the path to success. you know, he doesn't even know the language of the middle class yet. he talks the language of "fortune" magazine. >> it's funny you bring up language. one thing i do want to note and the movement itself feels pretty vindicated today, the occupy wall street movement, the language that they use, you know, the president very quietly while never fully saying he's embraced the occupy movement, he is using their language. he went ahead and adopted the language from the 1%. he's been very carefully doing that. and the republicans have believed this could be a negative for the president. that's why mitt romney's
comfortable talking about the 99 versus the one. >> why do they think it could hurt the president? >> because in the past any time the democrats have tried to do this, the old whether it was al gore who tried it, walter mondale who tried it, this idea it's us versus them. >> yeah. >> that it hasn't worked. at the end democrats looked like they were somehow punishing success, and republicans have run that campaign before and won. this does seem different because of the economic place we're in and because the rich seem so much richer than what the rich seemed even 20 years ago. >> and romney is so far away from the average republican voter in wealth. nobody who makes a hundred a year or 200 a year, 200,000 a year can say i'm in the same boat as the guy who makes $57,000 a day. >> it's a tougher argument. you know, we talked about, be careful on capital gains. and the white house said, no, this isn't raising capital gain. frankly the idea, they haven't figured it out. they're just throwing out a number.
we think it should be 30%. >> i know. >> we have no idea how to write it into the tax code but we came up with a number and thank you mitt romney for putting out your tax return. >> another adversary for the president last night republicans in congress. here he was taking on anyone who might get in the way of his agenda. let's watch the tough guy talk for the president. >> the state of our union is getting stronger. and we've come too far to turn back now. as long as i'm president i will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. but i intend to fight obstruction with action and i will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place. >> there's the president, chris cillizza, talking to his base. for three years he is trying to be a center left president, sometimes a center president, sometimes a left i'd say leaning to the center at the same time trying to keep the base, the blogosphere, et cetera, happy. there he is i think talking directly to them saying i'm going to punch their lights out through executive orders, through recess appointments, vetoes, whatever it takes to
beat them when they try to beat me. >> yeah. >> for the first time he's saying this. >> you know, chris, i think if he gets re-elected, we may go back to that debt ceiling fight and say, you know what? this might have been the moment when things changed for him. i think the debt ceiling fight confirmed what his aides had been trying and his political strategists had been trying to tell him for a long time that in order to beat republicans, you're going to have to talk tougher, be willing to keep the steering wheel straight in the game of political chicken longer, out tough them essentially. if you go and look at the payroll tax cut extension fight, now granted, republicans were internally divided but obama was -- just said you know what? this is the road we're going down. if you want to try and beat me at it, you can try and beat me at it. in a lot of ways you could sum up what he said last night in two words. game on. he is trying to send a message i am not changing. i will outlast you in this fight and i will win this fight which is very different than the first two and a half, three years in office in which it was i'll meet
you at 75% of the way. i'll meet you 80% of the way. 85% of the way. that has clearly changed in his own mind. >> here he is saying what a lot of people on his side have been waiting for him to say for a long time. here he is running through his list of successes so far as president. let's listen to what should be the talking points for his confederates. here it comes. >> for the first time in nine years, there are no americans fighting in iraq. for the first time in two decades, osama bin laden is not a threat to this country. most of al qaeda's top lieutenants have been defeated. the taliban's momentum has been broken. and some troops in afghanistan have begun to come home. on the day i took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. some even said we should let it die.
with a million jobs at stake, i refused to let that happen. today general motors is back on top as the world's number one automaker. >> i've been watching joe biden for years and years and he has that wonderful thing he does. he goes like this. >> he is a great -- has a great "i'm listening very intently and i'm interested" -- >> back to you, chuck. >> the accomplishment, somebody said they wanted a whole mystery science theater just on boehner and biden. >> how they look. >> doing little thought bubbles what they're doing physically and all that stuff. on the accomplishment list i thought it was interesting what he emphasized and what he de-emphasized. he still doesn't know how to deal with health care and that is an interesting conundrum that the obama campaign has decided. >> use the heritage foundation talking points. we want every american to
take responsibility for their health care to the extent they can afford it. >> this was blown from the very beginning. they gave the message on health care to the republicans when they were in the middle of getting it passed. they win the legislation and lose the message war. you know, ultimately that's why you hear, boy, that's one thing that romney and gingrich, they bring up every day and every hour on the campaign trail is that he -- he had a response almost for everything in that state of the union except health care which i find, i guess their own polling has told them, i just don't have the fight. >> do you think if they have a debate this fall and the president has to face romney or gingrich, that gingrich would actually say food stamps to the president's face? would he say saul alinsky and talk like that right to him? >> i don't know about the saul -- yes, i think newt would. >> would he get that direct and personal with these charges? >> if he was the nominee, i think he would. i would say, chris, i'm stunned and chuck and i have talked about this, but i am stunned to the extent at which the entire
gingrich candidacy is premised on the idea that he's the better debater against barack obama as if the general election campaign, the only thing in the general election campaign which could go on for months and months are those three, what we expect to be three presidential debates. it's a remarkable thing that people are saying he is more electable because he is a better debater. my friend, chris, i do agree he is right on one thing in history. they will be the greatest debates in history that those two guys go at it because they both got i.q.s well high up there and they would be unbelievably literate against each other. thank you. coming up we've seen watching newt gingrich surge in florida just like in south carolina. what's up? has he crested yet? now we've got a real race between newt and mitt down in florida. the sunshine state. that's ahead. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. under crashes ] [ snoring ] [ thunder crashes ] [ snoring ] [ male announcer ] vicks nyquil cold and flu. the nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fever, best sleep you ever got with a cold...
representatives. bachmann finished a distant sixth in the iowa republican caucuses early this month and dropped out of the presidential race. a new poll from ppp shows bachmann isn't popular in her home state and is not running statewide but nearly 6 in 10 minnesota voters have an unfavorable opinion of her versus just one-third who view her favorably. keep in mind ppp's a robocall poll which some pollsters say isn't as accurate. we'll be right back. it's powerful relief that works at the site of pain and lasts up to 12 hours. salonpas. lord of the carry-on. sovereign of the security line. you never take an upgrade for granted. and you rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle. and go. you can even take a full-size or above.
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welcome back to "hardball." the race for florida is getting more interesting. polls show mitt romney and newt gingrich in a very close race down there. ahead of the primary next tuesday. this week newt gingrich got a big boost in the form of a $5 million check to the superpac he's got from the wife of multibillionaire casino tycoon sheldon addleson. the money seems to be going to good use if you believe in the newt gingrich cause. the pac has produced $6 million in ad time in florida and is out with a new commercial attacking romney's health care record up
in massachusetts. well, today "the washington post" reported that that superpac is, quote, setting up a shadow campaign in florida complete with field directors, volunteers, poll workers, and drivers. rick towers, the senior adviser to that pac, used to serve as newt gingrich's campaign spokesman. thank you for joining us. also an expert on all things political joan walsh, editor at large for salon. thank you, dear. rick, you maintain the fact that you don't talk to newt gingrich. you are an independent person in this society. you don't work with him. you are not coordinating right? >> no, sir. >> how do you know what to put in these ads? >> we make an assessment on where we think this race is going and things work out pretty well. it was interesting to me. i said that all we have to do is remind people that mitt romney was charlie crist. then i learned newt said that a week before. i didn't know that. i've been with newt a long time and i can dance with this campaign and not coordinate. so i'm not worried about it. >> let's look at a new poll out
there today on the race in florida. between sunday and tuesday mitt romney led gingrich by two percentage points, 36-34. however, when you break those numbers down by day there is some difference that newt gingrich's surge might have peaked. on sunday newt gingrich led mitt romney by six points. on monday and tuesday mitt romney was up by nine. do you see a cresting earlier this week in your guy's campaign, the one you are endorsing? >> no, i don't see it at all. in fact mitt romney's team has spent over $5 million here in florida and we've only answered back today. we've run our first ads, you know, late yesterday and a couple ads and then in earnest today. so we've not even responded in the polls that are upside down for mitt romney. so, you know, we have not begun the fight. >> let me go to joan. you know, my theory is this campaign that the success of newt gingrich in challenging romney so effectively the last couple weeks, in fact tied with him basically nationwide now, or a bit ahead, is going to pull romney to the right and it's
going to have the effect no matter which of these two gentlemen, using the term that way, would succeed that they'll both be further to the right than they'd like to be going into the race against the president. >> well, i think they already are, chris. i think we see that very clearly. the problem for newt -- for mitt romney right now, is that he does look like the man of the top 1%. his taxes told us that. the polls, not just the polls. the elections are showing us that. he wins with voters who make over $200,000 a year and he loses with voters, the lunch pail republicans, who make around $50,000 a year. but the thing that i think is really scary is just this sewer of negative advertising that we're seeing in florida. you know, that's part of why we really can't determine who is going to come out on top because they just keep throwing buckets of slime at one another. and from outside if we're not watching all of that advertising, it's really hard to keep an eye on exactly what's happening.
and for mr. tyler to say he's -- he doesn't talk to his candidate, he doesn't need to. he worked for him for years. he is able to channel him. so this is really a case study in how fictional this idea of these independent pacs really are. >> rick, are you a fiction? are you creating a fictional difference between yourself and your candidate? are you channeling him in the way some people do when they go to their clairvoyance? >> i like that term a whole lot but, you know, when i was on your show the last time i said these superpacs are an abomination and we should get rid of them. >> here you are running one. >> i know. it's ridiculous. let's go back to letting candidates raise the money. >> by the way, i want to make a point for you guys. i'll give you a free ad point. >> thank you. >> when you say very nicely actually joan that my friend, people make $200,000 a year which is a lot of money sort of identify with mitt romney. mitt romney makes a hundred times that amount. >> i know. >> that's only the amount he decides to draw from his quarter billion dollars in wealth. he could have any amount he
wanted a year. >> right. >> he chooses to reinvest the money. rick, your superpac is out with a new ad today going after romney's health care record up in mass. let's take a look. >> think you know mitt? think again. >> those who follow the path that we pursued will find us the best path. we'll end up with a nation that's taken a mandate approach. >> when mitt romney invented government-run health care, romney advisers helped barack obama write the disastrous obama care. >> we put them together in exchange and the president's copying that idea. i'm glad to hear that. >> i agree with mitt romney. he recently said he is proud of what he accomplished on health care. >> do you get pictures of bella lugosi and try to make these guys look more and more like them? what do you do to tint these pictures? you've got romney looking like the count himself, like dracula and you got -- what do you do? do you tell these guys put a little weird tint, purple tint on these guys? what did you do? they don't look like this and
the president doesn't look like that in real life. i just saw him on tv last night. he didn't look like that. >> but chris, right now i didn't see it. all i heard were mitt romney's words and the president's words. those are the things they said. >> why do you make him look so furtive and dracula-like? >> chris, come on. you've been in politics a long time. >> where do you find these voices from these people with these suspicious voices that you get. i notice you have a female voice. usually you have a male voice for that guy always saying did you know he has been invited 40 times? >> can i bring up something else suspicious? you mentioned the 1% about mitt romney and over $200,000 a year. people are attracted to him. the thing i don't understand is he had some sort of unconventional i.r.a. he's claimed there is somewhere between $21 million and $101 million in his i.r.a. now most americans can only contribute as much as $30,000 into their i.r.a. -- into a retirement account. i did a calculation. mitt would have to be 3,333
years old or he's put something, he put some equities or stocks into his i.r.a. and in which case he may have avoided paying the ubit tax. if he did that, avoiding that is criminal. which is it? is he 3,000 years old or did he avoid paying the ubit tax? nobody is asking the question. >> come on. >> your witness, joan. one last exchange here. go ahead. you ask him. >> you know, newt gingrich would lower mitt romney's taxes to zero because mitt romney only pays taxes at the capital gains rate. he only has capital gains. he doesn't have a job. >> apparently doesn't need to. he just puts it in his i.r.a. >> this is hypocrisy. newt gingrich believes everything mitt romney believes. he's flip flopped just as much. he's got a lot of money himself. this is preposterous. >> that's not true. >> it is true. >> by the way, mitt wants to give people tremendous breaks who make a lot of money and so does newt, right? >> i think we want to foster -- >> anyway, thank you.
you know i'm right. thank you, rick. it's great to have you on. you are a good sport. lose the double digit multiplication stuff. you'll be invited back. it is always magical the first time someone gets captivated by politics. that happened to new england patriots wide receiver chad ochocinco. his stream of consciousness tweets during the state of the union next in the side show. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc.
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back. >> we discovered last night that mitt romney has picked up charlie crist's campaign team. i thought that sort of told you everything you need to know about this primary. >> i think this is about the candidate not the staff. >> wow. romney is of course referring to the mass exodus of the gingrich campaign staff last summer but perhaps the best defense for romney came from florida senator marco rubio who beat crist in the 2010 senate race. quote, mitt romney is no charlie crist. romney is a conservative and was one of the first national republican leaders to endorse me. he came to florida, campaigned hard for me, and made a real difference in my race. so it's tit for tat, marco. by the way do you think rubio has his eye on the vice presidency maybe? next up, vice president joe biden was asked today to weigh in on the newt/mitt battle and was reluctant to make a prediction. >> charlie, i couldn't figure out the democratic primary or i
would have just joined the president early on. i'm not very good at this. the bottom line here is there is no fundamental difference between newt gingrich and governor romney on the things we care about, on the whole issue of how we deal with foreign policy, on how we deal with the domestic policy. this is a republican fight but substantively, i don't see any fundamental difference between the men. >> a long fight on the republican side by the way is good news for the obama/biden ticket. while millions watch the president's state of the union address last night, there were close to 800,000 tweets referencing the speech. here's a fun look at the stream of consciousness from chad ochocinco, wide receiver for the new england patriots. quote, not being rude but if they stand up and clap on every statement obama says, this could go on well over three hours. and later he tweeted, quote, anybody notice the guy over obama's left shoulder doesn't seem very happy and he's not smiling, he's not clapping with
joy? hum. well, once he was informed that the person over his left shoulder, the president's left shoulder was in fact the republican speaker of the house ochocinco tweeted, quote, just read some of your tweets and you seem pretty angry, kind sir. i can you see you on tv but are not smiling. hope you're okay. seems like he is a first-time viewer. the final verdict from ochocinco, the president's speech was awesome. up next, president obama kept secret a daring navy s.e.a.l.s raid that freed an american who was held by pirates over in somalia. details on that incredible mission coming up next. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. fidelity. they offer me one-on-one guidance to help me choose my investments. not just with my savings plan here at work. they help me with all of my financial goals. looking good, irene. thanks to fidelity, i can stay on top of my financial future, huh?
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through five battleground states. he reiterated some of the themes in his state of the union speech like creating jobs for the long term and reviving america's manufacturing base. he pointed to the comeback of general motors saying what happened in detroit can happen elsewhere. punishing rains and winds battled central texas earlier. trees and power lines were down in the area which also saw massive flooding. roofs were ripped right off of houses. at least three tornadoes reported. and the u.s. army is reportedly planning to cut the number of combat brigades to as few as 32. according to the associated press, it's part of a strategy aimed at cutting costs and the overall size of the service by about 80,000 troops. the pentagon's 2013 budget is expected to include $260 billion in cuts over the next five years. i'm veronica de la cruz. let's get you back to "hardball."
what an incredible story we have to tell you. last night as president obama shook hands and made his way to deliver his state of the union address, he pointed at his pentagon chief leon panetta, secretary of defense, and singled him out for congratulations. a few telling words that were picked up by microphones right there in the chamber. let's listen. >> good job tonight. good job tonight. >> good job tonight for an incredibly bold mission to rescue two hostages including a 32-year-old american woman and a 60-year-old danish man who had been captured in somalia three months ago. immediately after delivering his state of the union address, president obama called jessica buchanan's father to tell him his daughter had been rescued. the mission was carried out by navy s.e.a.l.s from s.e.a.l. team six, the same unit that carried out the bin laden raid, although not the same individuals. kimberly dosier of the associated press has been reporting on the dramatic raid
and bob baer our old friend is an intelligence columnist for "time" magazine. do the play by play and we'll get the commentary from bob. i use these happy terms because it turned out incredibly well. all nine kidnappers killed, none of the rescuers killed. the hostages taken completely without injury. >> nine kidnappers killed. it was a high risk raid, a joint special operations raid. the s.e.a.l.s parachuted in from a distance and then hiked to the site, which was an open encampment. they quickly subdued the attackers. there was a brief firefight. some of them were actually asleep. they secured the hostages and then army special operations helicopters flew in, took away the s.e.a.l.s, took away the hostages, all of them unharmed. >> did they go in with those infrared goggles that can see in the night? is that how they did it with that incredible advantage? >> that is one way they could have done it. they're not giving us too many of the tactics and techniques
used on the ground because there are other hostages out there. there are other people who may need to be rescued. >> was there a moon that night? >> i don't know. >> i bet they figure all this stuff out, no moon, no stars. they go with the incredible electronic advantage and they can see and nobody else can. >> they do beforehand. they figure all of this out and this is one of the reasons that they chose this time for the raid even though president obama was in the middle of a major address to the nation. that was high stakes because this could have gone wrong. then you would have had the contrast of him speaking about security successes while something was failing on the ground. >> is this a new rule of engagement where we seem to kill everybody on the other side? i'm not defending the action or criticizing it but it seems awfully clean in terms of no hostages, no prisoners to bring back, that sort of thing. >> we spoke to pirate sources, self-identified pirate sources on the ground, who said that they spoke to survivors from the raid, pirates, criminals who had gotten away. that indicates there is some
confusion about whether everyone was killed. >> bob baer, give us your insight into what this means about our capabilities, what we'll be up against the rest of our lives with these strange kind of enemies, pirates. >> chris, i think this is the future of warfare. the s.e.a.l.s are very, very good at this. they've learned in iraq and afghanistan. you know, from the time of contact, until they rescued everybody is about two minutes. and as for killing the hostagetakers, people with weapons, the s.e.a.l.s don't have the time to decide who is a threat and who's not. you simply have to go in and i repeat they learned this in afghanistan and iraq and you have to shoot everybody with a weapon. there is no putting flex cuffs on. there is no saying throw your hands up. they know exactly what they're doing. they come in with passive goggles. there is no way to detect them. they come in soundlessly. and these guys, remember, have been through this over and over again. that's why they're so good.
when i was in the '80s in beirut, we were sort of tentative about this. we hadn't done a whole lot of rescues. had desert one in iran. we lost a bunch of people there. and these two wars have really taken us a long way. >> and like desert one which was the tragedy where we had the burning of the -- horrible what happened to those guys, the rescuers, and had the helicopter crashes, what's different? is it just an over -- did we now make a point of having everything we need with some big margin for error like when we lose the helicopter going to get bin laden still carried out successfully the mission? >> there is always a risk but it's just the practice. you can teach this stuff at the s.e.a.l.s course in san diego, but it is nothing like actually doing it. and this -- they work as a team as well and they do it over and over again. there is nothing -- no group closer in the united states government than the s.e.a.l.s. they protect each other. they're trained to do it. they're just good. you know, as these parts of the world fall off the political map like somalia, as afghanistan will for a long time, we'll see
a lot more of this and by the way, it's gutsy of the president to go ahead. i'm sure the s.e.a.l.s, you know, called when they would go in and the president said yeah go for it. he's got a lot of trust in them. >> kimberly? >> well, i just wanted to point out this was an interagency operation. the fbi was in charge of the investigation because there was a u.s. hostage overseas involved. you had the cia gathering intelligence. and then you had this interagency task force figuring out how to respond. the s.e.a.l.s got the job because the horn of africa is one of their areas of operation. had it been in latin america, other parts of the world it could have been delta force, the u.s. army's version that also goes in and gets hostages out. so basically the u.s. government takes a look at the target and figures out what tool in the tool box to use. in this case, it was the s.e.a.l.s. >> last point, bob, you talk about countries that would go off the map meaning they don't really have governments anymore, somalia being a horrendous case. there are so many points in the world now that we have to be our own police force right? >> absolutely. we can't send ground forces.
you remember blackhawk down. you simply can't send an army into these areas because they'll get mowed up. you know? that's why you have to come in with special forces. people that can get into an area quickly and get out and above all surprise. >> well, i pay tribute to the guys that went in there, the men who risked their lives to do this to save those two lives. again and again i think we all do. we're so impressed as the president is. another successful operation under the very responsible hands of leon panetta, one of our great secretaries of defense. he is a good guy. anyway, bob baer, kimberly dozier, thanks for the reporting and analysis. up next the emotional last day in congress for gabrielle giffords. what a story this one is of a totally different kind. this is "hardball" only on msnbc. ♪ what's he looking for? i think he's looking for savings. ♪ i can't watch this anymore. stop! there's an easier way!
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all of us come to the floor today, colleagues of congresswoman gabby giffords to salute her as a brightest -- the brightest star among us, the brightest star congress has ever seen. >> though gabby may be leaving washington today, i know this won't be the last we see of her. or mark. and i will say once again, mr. speaker, congresswoman gabby giffords' strength against all odds serves and will continue to serve as a daily inspiration to all of us. thank you, mr. speaker, and i yield back. >> well, we're back. a very emotional scene on the house floor this morning as members of both parties honored congresswoman gabrielle giffords from arizona. it was just over a year ago she
was nearly killed during a shooting rampage, an event in her home district. she was shot right in the head. she's made incredible progress. this weekend she announced she'd step down to focus on her recovery. and today she handed her official resignation letter to speaker john boehner. there she is doing that. wow. now to talk more about congresswoman gabby giffords is one of the people who knows her best, her chief of staff pia corsone who was also honored this morning for the work you've done. thanks for joining us. i worked on the hill. i don't know anybody has ever had to go through exactly what you've had to go through, holding things together in all these months and actually a year now. what do you think went into the congresswoman's decision to resign her office right now when everybody is rooting for her to actually stick around? >> thanks for having me on, chris. you know, for her, it was really what is the right thing for arizona. she determined in the last couple of months that she needs
more time in her rehab program. she's a -- to continue at the 100% level that she's at now. and that means that returning to work in 2012 was looking less and less likely. and in the last couple of weeks. in the last couple weeks she decided finally it looked like that would not be possible at all this year for her to return to work. so she was faced with resigning or serving out the remainder of her term and not running for reelection. her calculation is to have a representative in the seat as quickly as possible in a full-time manner serve the constituents in arizona so she made decision the right thing to do was to step down. what do you think of the decision yourself? >> she's a class act and i think right up until the end she absolutely had the right framework in thinking about it. she didn't think politically because it's not the best thing politically for the district. she thought about no one but her
constituents. sure, she could have continued over the next 10, 11 months as a member of congress and received that recognition over the remainder of the year but it's not right and if she wasn't able to return this year, she felt and i agree that the right thing to do is step away and let somebody else run to be here as a voting member of congress, full-time and certainly the staff has been a big part of helping the constituents but it's not the same as having someone here on a daily basis serving the district. >> the resignation video which released this past weekend, she showed the grit and determination that grit that her colleagues often spoke of. let's listen to her statement. >> thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. i'm getting better. every day my spirit is high.
i will return and we will work together for arizona, and this great country. >> pia, what's the mood in the district in terms of guilt or sense of responsibility or anger? what would be the emotion or mix of those that somebody in the area put a gun to somebody's head and shot at them? i think there is obviously a lot of remorse and regret in the community. it was determined it seems that the gentleman was really mentally ill and had nothing to do with it being in arizona or being a difficult part of the country politically, it could have been in anyone's community. tucson came together the way the town always does and i think showed the true colors as a place unites people and supports people. there is a sense of pride in
their town and their congress woman to show what a grueling recovery and inspiring people dealing with big life issues. >> well said. one of more moving moments, debbie watson, one of her closest friends gave an emotional speech before reading a goodbye letter on behalf of congress woman giffords herself. let's listen to that. >> there is nothing more important than familiar -- family and friendship, that would be held on high above all else and i will always carry that in my heart, even though i know we won't see each other every day, gabby we will be friends for life. >> yes. thank you. [ applause ] >> good for debbie. thank you, pia for being on the program tonight, congratulations on being a great role model for all staffers. when we return we finish with the new kennedy tapes, news
would he have done what his successor lyndon johnson did, create a war involving troop levels of half a million sold r soldie soldiers, where we lost 58,000 american soldiers. a question i have been asked again and again traveling the country for my new book. this much i know, the day he died he had given a speech that very morning in fort worth that said "without the united states, south viet nam would collapse overnight" those were his words that morning of november 22nd, 1963 with lyndon johnson at his side at the chamber of commerce. without the united states, south viet nam would collapse overnight. was he ready to introduce combat troops or limit the role to many thousands of advisers in country, do what lyndon johnson did make it an american war? there are good reasons to believe he would not have. his war buddy recalls he issued orders to marine unit commander
-- to the french when they were fighting the fire pour the french were overwhelmed by the spirit of those fighting them. the vietnamese did not want foreigners running their country either directly or through a government they were seen to be controlling. the tapes release yesterday show kennedy getting conflicting reports. the military was telling him the government in saigon was winning battle. the state department told him the government we were backing was focusing mainly on fighting their own students who are moving over to the viet kong side. kennedy wondered if the military department people had been to the same country. we know this, the day before he left for texas, president kennedy was thinking about an ex-it strategy. he asked a an